Program in Environmental Studies
- Corina E. Tarnita
- Ian C. Bourg, Civil and Environmental Eng
- Allison Carruth, Effron Center Study of America
- Jacob S. Dlamini, History
- William A. Gleason, English
- Katharine B. Hackett, High Meadows Environmental Ins, ex officio
- Melissa Lane, Politics
- Reed M. Maxwell, Civil and Environmental Eng
- Erika L. Milam, History
- Rob Nixon, English
- Michael Oppenheimer, Schl of Public & Int'l Affairs
- Laure Resplandy, Geosciences
- Daniel I. Rubenstein, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
- Gabriel A. Vecchi, Geosciences
- Jerry C. Zee, Anthropology
The Program in Environmental Studies (ENV) offers a vibrant, multidisciplinary forum for engaging the scientific, political, humanistic, and technological dimensions of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world today. The program aims to educate a generation of Princeton students as leaders to address critical environmental challenges that they will face throughout their careers and in life. We provide a strong community for students with interest in environmental topics and offer a wide array of courses. Experiential learning is integral to environmental studies at Princeton. Several of the courses offer laboratory and field experiences. Opportunities for summer internships and funding to support research connected to students’ independent work are also available. Equally important to the life of the ENV program are events through which students may present their research, work collaboratively on group projects, and interact with leading scientists and policymakers in the field.
The ENV program is distinctive for the broad disciplinary backgrounds of participating students. Students majoring in any discipline who wish to demonstrate proficiency in environmental studies may pursue a certificate in environmental studies.
The Program in Environmental Studies is part of the High Meadows Environmental Institute (HMEI)(link is external), the interdisciplinary center for environmental research, education, and outreach at Princeton University. HMEI offers an extensive summer internship program with opportunities for students to work with faculty in laboratories and field sites around the world. Students in their first, sophomore, or junior years are eligible to apply. Funding is also available for students who wish to conduct field or laboratory research as a component of their senior independent work. The internship program and funding for independent work are open to all students regardless of their being an ENV certificate student.
Admission to the Program
The Program in Environmental Studies is open to all A.B. and B.S.E. students. Students interested in pursuing the ENV certificate are encouraged to register as early as their first year by completing the ENV Certificate Program Student Profile Form. Students should also meet with the director or the undergraduate/graduate program manager to plan a tentative course of study and to discuss elective choices early on in their planning process.
Program of Study
ENV courses explore emerging environmental themes and research in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, and the humanities. Taught by world-class faculty and researchers, our classes include topics in climate science, environmental policy, land use and agriculture, environmental history, environmental communications, earth systems science, environmental justice, literature, and the arts. Undergraduates may enroll in ENV courses starting in their first year. Students in the certificate program are required to (1) complete five courses, (2) investigate an environmental topic as an element of their departmental thesis, or conduct an independent investigative work, and (3) participate in the Discovery Day poster show during their senior year. Students must receive a grade of C or higher (no Pass/D/Fail) in all courses taken in fulfillment of the requirements for the ENV certificate.
The ENV Certificate is open to all students interested in environmental issues. Students in the Class of 2026 and beyond must complete the requirements below. (Students in the Classes of 2023, 2024, and 2025 are encouraged to satisfy the new requirements, but may consult with the program director about their individual path of study.)
- Two (2) foundational courses (list available on website). Students are encouraged to take the foundational courses as early as possible in their academic careers. At most one foundational course may be at the 200 level.
- Three (3) electives. At most one elective may be at the 200 level or FRS.
Two (2) of these five (5) courses must be in humanities and/or social sciences, and two (2) must be in natural sciences and/or engineering. Consult the program website for the most up-to-date listing of available courses.
Except with the approval of the ENV program director or the undergraduate program manager, no more than one (1) of these three elective courses may count toward the student’s departmental concentration or another certificate. In all cases, students are encouraged to meet with the ENV program director or undergraduate program manager in order to choose an appropriate sequence of courses.
Additional Program Requirements
Senior Thesis or Independent Investigative Work. Students in the certificate program are expected to examine an environmental issue as a component of their senior thesis. The topic must be approved by the ENV director as well as the director of undergraduate studies in the student's concentration. The environmental content of the senior thesis will be reviewed early on in the senior year. Students who find it difficult to incorporate an environmental topic into their departmental senior thesis should meet with the ENV program director to find a suitable alternative before the end of their junior year.
Discovery Day. In their senior year, students pursuing the ENV certificate are required to participate in Discovery Day, a poster presentation that allows students to present the methodologies and final results of their senior thesis research with fellow students, faculty, and staff.
Certificate of Proficiency
Students who meet the requirements of the program receive a certificate of proficiency in environmental studies upon graduation.